Ape Wind

The Columbus Music Scene and Beyond

Feb 14, 2012 – Shearwater, Hailing from Austin, TX is made up of Jonathan Meiburg, Mitch Billeaud, Lucas Oswald, Danny Reisch, Christiaan Mader, Kimberly Burke, and Thor Harris, the first five of which are touring now. Jonathan with Will Sheff began Shearwater back in 2001 as a separate outlet to their other projects which quickly bloomed into what we hear today. The group made their first album, The Dissolving, with Grey Flat in 2001. Continuing Shearwater created an album a year on Misra then Matador Records including Palo Santo which released in 2007.  Shearwater self published two albums; Shearwater is Enron, and The Island Arc before signing with Sub Pop Records in 2011. Following that they released their 12th album Animal Joy on February 14th in the U.S. and in the U.K. February 27th.

Shearwater

Shearwater live on stage

I was fortunate enough to catch Shearwater’s show at The Wexner Center for the Arts, an inviting and intimate setting for a romantic evening.  It was a beautiful Valentine’s Day and what a smooth night for a sweet show.  Shearwater readied themselves for an evening of song and dance. They opened the night filling the space with a serene atmosphere, heartening couples to sway in time to the music. I always enjoy when a band speaks to the audience and Shearwater didn’t fail, personalizing with the Columbus crowd while mentioning their previous visit to Outland on Liberty. The music was samples of many albums as well as playing a few from their new album Animal Joy, including “You as You Were” and “Pushing the River”. The boys gave everyone a warm hug of music that cast the crowd into a tranquil spell throughout the night. All in all it was a tight performance with a laidback feel for a lovely Valentine’s Day.

With their first tour after the release of their new album done Shearwater is now touring with SXSW which is finishing up March 16th. Then off across the sea for a European tour with Julie Doiron, from Amsterdam to Athens then back to the states for another tour in May with St. Vincent ending at the Sasquatch Festival May 28th. For more information and to listen to Shearwater go to shearwatermusic.com or check them out in the social media on Facebook or Twitter.

Nov 20, 2010 – Let me start this off by saying I am a huge fan of Tim Hiedecker and Eric Warehiem from the show “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” that most are familiar with from the internet or on Adult Swim, which completed its last episode recently to many of its avid fans dismay.

Tim and Eric Live Tour Poster

Tim and Eric Live Tour Poster

If you have never seen their sketch comedy show, I can only describe it as a brand of nightmare comedy performance art. They deal with the normal fertile comedy ground of sex, poop jokes, and pure tomfoolery, but they take their special brand of humor to the furthest degree. So much so that it often grows beyond just comedy to the land of the surreal and just plain creepy.

So, suffice it to say, I was more than excited to see their live Chrimbus Show at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio Saturday night. I knew what to expect with the show to some degree, but as I arrived I hadn’t been prepared for the shear number of fellow Awesome Show fans I would be sharing the evening with.  The show was completely sold out.

After fighting my way through the crowd of twenty something college kids, I made my way upstairs while the opening act Neil Hamburger did his usual brand of anti stand-up comedy.  Which for the uninitiated is the equivalent of comedy punk rock. Lewd, crude and full of enough cultural pop references to make a camel puke. Jokes delivered in a garbled old man grunt like, “How do you get Carlos Santana to stop touching your children? Give him a guitar,” were met with the expected mix of applause and just basic confusion. Then again, that’s the point when it comes to Hamburger, a greasy 70’s throw back. The Tim and Eric gang love to leave you wondering just how fucked up and unaware they really are of their own stupidity. But they have also spawned a zillion followers and copycat comedy clowns in Hollywood to make you wonder who the real morons are.

David Liebe Hart on screen

David Liebe Hart on screen at Tim and Eric Awesome Show Crimbus Tour

When the opening by David Liebe Hart, an alien obsessed and deranged puppeteer, introduced our reason for standing in line all night and braving a sardine packed crowd, it is safe to say most in attendance were chomping at the bit. Hiedecker and Warehiem were both dressed in their Chrimbus finest, looking like fat retarded elves and singing us a Chrimbus tune chock full of curse words and sexual innuendos.

What in holy hell is Chrimbus? You may find yourself asking. All I can say is… EXACTLY. Who the hell knows? Other than it being a twisted take on our own silly fascinations with American holiday traditions. This is indicative of their mockery style you will discover again and again in the Awesome Show Universe. To me, this habit of taking our most boring and lifeless cultural obsessions and flipping the mirror back on us by displacing them with absurd new names and ideas, is the very purpose of all great comedy.

It takes the attendant audience up above the beaten archetype of predictable punch line humor and makes them realize the absolute and fundamental beauty of just how dumb this whole existence and its sacred cow worship can really be. Pure Genius. Well, beyond my hyperbole and speculation on the human condition, I will give you a run down of what the meat of the evening was all about.

Tim and Eric in Crimbus Costumes

Tim and Eric in Crimbus Costumes

Their opening Chrimbus musical number ended with them actually saying goodnight and walking off stage, with the houselights turning back on, leaving those of us less familiar with their brand of sham to wonder if we had just been raped of our entertainment this evening by the devilish, childlike duo of dementia. Soon any fears dissipated as the lights went down again and a video came up, this one being a commercial from the Cinco Corporation, an Awesome Show reoccurring mock-up big business. The Cinco Pasta Bear, a teddy bear you can eat pasta out of after heating in the microwave.

Next the audience got to choose their favorite of three classic Awesome Show skits they wanted to watch by applauding to an applause-o-meter. I thought this was a wonderful usage of crowd participation and a worthy tactic of not having to create new material witch they used again later in the performance. Oh well, the crowd loved watching the ever-popular “Spagett” witch to me is the equivalent of yelling for Casey Jones at a Dead concert. Typical, for those in the know, I would have much rather watched the Paul Rudd guest appearance option of Celery man.

If this is starting to sound like I am speaking some foreign language and you are shaking your head at the usage of these inside references and characters. Well its because I am, and I suggest you go and do your own research of this extremely unique comedy act or just quit reading because its going to get worse. As opposed to the singular shtick of Saturday Night Live, It would take a year and a day, plus if you’ve never seen the Awesome Show you really wouldn’t get it anyway. I’m not trying to sound elitist here; it is just the truth, plain and simple. And a classic case of “you had to be there,” I guess.

Then the boys returned to the stage as black turtleneck wearing pompous Carl Sagan type wannabe astronomers, DR Jimes Tooper and Dr. H Donna Gust.  Generally making an ass of themselves and obviously making shit up about the mysteries of the universe. Highlighting the evening, Zach Galfinakis appeared in a video reciting fondly his warm memories of helping Warf  (yes, the friendly Klingon from Star Trek fame) kill his own son and bury him.  This was not your typical fluffy celebrity retrospection piece.

Speaking of celebs Tim and Eric are full of them which is what helped lead to their growing popularity, and lets face it, that is what really helped this crazy shit down the throats of the masses. For instance, watching the every dad Alan Thicke try to sell you the Napple, an apple that helps you fall asleep only to wake you by giving you a whopping case of diarrhea, is half the fun, isn’t it kids?

This evenings live show also featured video taped skits from John C. Reilly, of Walk Hard and Stepbrothers fame doing his wildly popular Dr. Steven Brule character, a semi retarded psychiatrist. Reilly treated us to a wonderful story of Winterman, the Chrimbus legend, whom one can appease by eating a pound of your own body hair every year. Delicious. Reilly’s Character Brule is also the only Awesome show character to spawn a spinoff show on Adult Swim based around this character, called simply “Check It Out!” Brule is a personal favorite.

Tim and Eric touting Blues Brothers 2012

Tim and Eric touting Blues Brothers 2012

The duo came back to the stage in an effort to create buzz about the Tim and Eric movie, which is supposedly coming out next year and will be directed by non-other than the lovely Wil Ferrell. But when they showed up dressed as the Blues Brothers 2012, it was obvious that this was yet another clever put on, claiming they were playing Jake and Elwood Blues in the new film fresh from jail and going into the insect extermination business. They each had Termenex insect repellent canisters strapped on, while behind them on the screen the green and yellow Termenex logo blazed in all its glory.

They went into a song full of Pizza Hutt and Taco Bell references. It was hilarious in its blatant disgust and an obvious joke on all the strait faced corporate whoring that is so rampant this day and age. But like I said earlier, I’m a fan, and it occurred to me that not everyone might have understood what was happening here. It also occurred to me that those savvy bastards on stage were most likely really making money off advertising for these corporate giants. It was brilliant in its mind twisting grotesqueness. By sticking with the shows common theme of being cool by their exploitation of the sincerely un-cool in our countries culture, taking the absolute worst of entertainment in its lowest form, and serving it back to us as the biggest sell out act of all time. I actually loved them more for it. That is the magic of Tim and Eric, pure and simple.

Tim and Eric of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!

Tim and Eric of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!

The show wound down with the pair as themselves, with no costumes or cheesy stage make up to be seen, telling us that the scheduled performance by their alter egos, rock band, PussWhip Gangbang, was not to be this evening, due to a sickness concerning a few of the lesser known band mates. In true Kaufman-esque form, I sincerely didn’t know whether to believe them or not. I decided that for the first time this evening they were actually telling the truth, due to the fact that the stage was and had been barren of any musical instruments all evening. Instead they treated the crowd to a pre glimpse of their scheduled television Chrimbus special, threatening to rip off anyone’s dick or vagina if they taped it from their phones and put it on YouTube. The crowd was delighted.

I must note that at this point I had been watching Tim and Eric for a few hours and after a half an hour of their video special I was growing a little tired of the whole ordeal. As is true with any sort of live performance, comedy included, what started out as refreshing and new to me earlier in the evening began to feel, dare I say, predictable. The wackiness and odd editing style of the videos began to wear on me a tad and I was ready to leave. Everyone’s style can get old if you hang around too long, from Demetri Martin to Chris Rock. Oh Well, Damn the torpedoes and my attention span which is on par with a five year old.

All in All, I enjoyed the shit out of these soon to be comedy icons. I truly believe when watching the Tim and Eric unique brand of dreamlike schizoid comedy gold, you are witnessing the future of what is to come. Gone be the Seinfeld Era, with its one-liners and droll deliveries. And a big sweaty HELLO to Tim and Eric. They will soon claim the comedy heavens. So really, if you are tired of all that is tried and tired in our current entertainment landscape, check these sweethearts out. Merry Chrimbus Everyone! And Great Job!

-Oddfellow

May 28, 2010 – I walked into Skully’s on High at about ten thirty on Friday night and decided to review the first band I saw to grace the stage. It was West Unity’s Click To Play which includes former members of Columbus’ Uni-soul. There were about fifty to sixty people at the bar. I heard the night was suffering from a few scheduling conflicts which meant Click To Play didn’t actually get on stage until a little after eleven.

Click to Play

Click to Play

I sat at the bar in the room with the stage and my first glimpse of the band was of the lead singer and rhythm guitarist Kelley. She was joined by her keyboardist, B-Sharp. The first song was slow and haunting, but pleasant enough along with twinges of country and gospel. Kelley’s vocals were precise, bold, and impressing to me within this first selection.  She sang lines like “I promise I won’t forget, all we’ve done has been washed away” and “Of the sixty or so in attendance there were  really only half in the room watching at the beginning.”

Their second song, which was Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane,” is when I realized I was in the throws of a, and I gasp, cover band. I will admit that I was slightly disappointed and it really takes all the fun out of being a music reviewer when reviewing cover songs. Lets face it; all the chances of being in the presence of the next Led Zeppelin goes out the window at this point, so exuding a sigh I pushed onward. Kelley’s vocals left a little  to be desired at this point. I was expecting her to sing Like ol’ TP but I didn’t expect her to sing so choppy and without any heart, seemingly opposing the first song. The other musicians played well enough but how do you mess up a Tom Petty song? This is cover band 101 folks.

Click to Play

Click to Play

The third song wasn’t a selection I was familiar with and maybe it was an original but it was a  little too country and folk for my taste. In my opinion, the piano should have been much louder. Their fourth was everybody’s favorite “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals. In my opinion it was the highlight of their set and people seemed to fill in a little bit more to watch the band at this point.

On a side note, I’m not proud to live in Columbus because of their diverse cover band scene, when it’s the original music scene which I love. I always have felt that cover bands want to play their own music but don’t quite have the balls to lay their own heart and words on the line. I  understand that it’s better for the pocket book, but its hard for me to respect them.

Yet even as cover bands go, these guys need to start getting their stuff together before they can really start pulling in the big bucks. A good example would be the likes of local cover band favorites Swagg. This was very apparent in their next song, “Dust in the Wind” originally by Kansas. It started strong enough, but somewhere in the middle of their version, it became an 80’s hair metal version with a Survivors “Eye of the Tiger” vibe. At this point they lost the crowd. All in all they ended with a nice eerie jam which may be the second highlight to their very short set. If you do want to see a mediocre cover band perform live, come out and give it a shot. Honestly I would rather go watch and sing karaoke.

-Oddfellow